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TRINIDAD | Political leader of minority opposition party resigns

COP leader, Dr Anirudh Mahabir COP leader, Dr Anirudh Mahabir
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 15, CMC – Three members of the Congress of the People (COP) that once formed the coalition People’s Partnership government here, Tuesday resigned a few days before elections are held to elect a new leader for the party.

COP leader, Dr Anirudh Mahabir, his deputy Lauren Pouchet and the party’s general secretary Clyde Weatherhead tendered their resignations ahead of the August 20 poll that has become the center of a legal battle by a few disgruntled members who are opposed to one of the candidates contesting the leadership of the party that was part of the government here between 2010-15.

COP 2In a statement, Mahabir and Weatherhead noted that legal proceedings had started last week in the High Court in a matter brought by Kirt Francis, who is hallenging the candidacy of Nicole Dyer-Griffith and also the right to vote of 34 other persons in the election.

“Over the last six days, we engaged in discussions with Mr. Francis as well as the three candidates in order to arrive at a resolution in the interest of the COP. We hoped that all concerned would arrive at a solution, and once again work together in the common interest of the party.

“We are extremely disappointed that despite our best efforts all through the weekend and up to yesterday, no mutually acceptable resolution was found,” the two former executive members aid.

They said that the membership of the party has mandated that the election take place in the manner that was agreed.
“However, we have been sued and have been placed in the “firing line” before the Court. We have also received a threat that we would again be the subjects of further legal action if we agree to postpone the elections.

“We have been placed in an untenable position between warring factions, and are both saddened and frustrated that we are being brought to the Court despite all of our hard work and the support that we have given to the party. Elections are not won through the Courts, but through the will of the people,” they said.

“We have therefore, with utmost regret, both resigned with immediate effect from any positions we have held in the Congress of the People,” they said, adding that their attorneys have been “instructed to ask the Court to dismiss Mr. Francis’ application and to strike out the entire proceedings, should he proceed with his unfortunate litigation against us”.

Apart from Dyer-Griffith, a former juionr minister, the other candidates are former public administration minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Sharon Gopaul-McNicolls.

In his legal challenge, Francis is questioning the legitimacy of Dyer-Griffit, who returned to the party after having formed her own organisation prior to the last general election,.to contest the election, which was postponed from July 9 over the same legal threat.

Francis claimed COP’s ratification of Dyer-Griffith’s membership was null and void as it fell short of the party’s constitutional rules.

Dyer-Griffith, in a statement said she completely understand Mahabir and Weatherhead’s decision, as they were being dragged before the Courts in an attempt to overturn a decision made by the COP members.

“I stoutly refused to consent to postpone the election as this was confirmed, yet again by the highest instructing body of the party – its members. Now that they have resigned, after attempting to reason to keep the matter out of court, it is now for members to step up and steer the ship until such time as the democratic process takes place on Sunday.

“Both gentlemen and their DPLs did yeoman’s service and went above and beyond the call of duty in supporting this organisation, and their contributions must not go unnoticed. I support their statement that elections should not be won or lost in a court, but by the democratic process,” she added.

  • Countries: Trinidad_Tobago